Pub Awards: Best Wine Pub – Chequers, Bilton-in-Ainsty


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Pub Awards: Best Wine Pub – Chequers, Bilton-in-Ainsty

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Moving from one side of the bar to the other may not work in all cases, but for Antony Pratt, taking over the reins of the Chequers proved to be a massive success and has since gone onto form a multi-pub empire.

However, the Chequers is where it all began and an added focus on wine has helped drive the business to great success.

One of Antony’s first moves was to give the pub an exterior renovation and it’s paid off, giving the pub a welcoming and picturesque appeal.

A clear and effective approach to wine has helped demystify the category for novices and the less experienced, and the Wine Dinners, which see talks and tastings, followed by food and wine matching over dinner attract up to 30 people at a time, at around £35 per head.

The wine list is described as thoughtful and considered, and offering a good range for almost every taste - all the more remarkable as Antony is a new convert to wine - a couple of years ago a buyer took him to a vineyard in France, it piqued his interest and he’s learned a lot – fast!

Judge Mandy Wragg said: “This postcard-perfect pub in sleepy Ainsty isn’t just a pretty face; Antony Pratt and his experienced team have put together a wine list you won’t find in many country inns. But it’s not scary, or over-long, just carefully thought-through and accessible to experts and keen amateurs alike. You’re encouraged to extend and refine your palate, with many of the wines on offer by the glass, and regular ‘pairing’ dinners match four wines with five courses, with a talk by the maker or supplier who puts the choices into context.

"It’s not just about wine though; real ale comes from a 25 mile radius and the gin list is varied and unusual, and the staff are trained to make your G&T with aplomb.Their measure of success is watching ‘the customer’s shoulders drop’ as tension slips away in the face of perfectly poured glass.

Related topics: Events & Occasions